First Fire of 09 Season
by John Robertson
At 14:05 on Thursday 2nd July the Brigade was paged to help Coomera Valley RFB with a wildfire off Lanes Road. The Brigade has done this several times previously – most recently on 28th September 2007. On that occasion the fire took a big hold and three helicopters were needed, in addition to the brigades on the ground, to control it. It was very different this time thanks to the weather and to an excellent performance by our Brigade.
TM51 with Roger (TM3), Neville and David and TM52 with John H (TM1) and Rory responded quickly. Robbo followed a bit later, solo, in TM41. Tony ran our base radio. The forest lies North-South along Lanes Road and is about 100 hectares in area. From Lanes Road it rises steeply in a westerly direction to a crest and and then falls away to the Tamborine-Oxenford Road. (See map here
)There was a fresh northerly breeze which threatened to blow the fire towards the houses on the southern boundary of the forest.
The I/C was Brett Bain of CVRFB. Daniel was also there but with a CV hat on. Coomera Valley plus Rory in 52 tackled the northern end of the fire. Access was difficult because the steep tracks were covered in wet mud and impassible in places; so they attacked the fire with long hose lengths from trucks on the road. This showed that it is quite possible to have a good going wildfire on the one hand but tracks too slippery for access on the other.
The southern end of the fire was very difficult to reach; steep with no available tracks and thick bush. Roger and David took backpacks through the undergrowth and up the hill to do the job. Nev, despite a very sore hand, ran the pump. Getting up the hill with a backpack was very hard physical going but David, with some assistance from Roger, and, after a lot of exhausting work, put out the south-eastern flank of the fire. David’s fitness was a big asset. Total water use was about 400 litres, demonstrating yet again how efficiently backpacks use water.
Brett’s initial idea was that it would be impossible to control the southern end of the fire, especially given the northerly breeze, and that we would have to do a backburn northwards from the fire trail about 500 metres south of the fire. There were several houses near that trail. 41 with John and Robbo were tasked to recce it as a base line for a backburn. This we did successfully despite being blocked on the way down to the T-O road by a locked gate across the trail. On the way back we heard Roger tell the I/C that the southern fire was out. Not long afterwards Brett declared the job complete and the other trucks on the way to support us were put on STOP. Brett gave for a short debrief and thank you.
All trucks were back at the Station by 17:30. John gave a short debrief with thanks all round. A very good day for the Brigade!